Monday, April 16, 2012

Whew!  It has been quite the semester.  Here are some of the things that I have learned in my digital civilization class.

This class is a civilization course.  As such, it uses concepts from the digital age and applies them to the past.  As an archaeologist, I am fond of history and have quite enjoyed the changed perspective of applying digital concepts to it.  The historical perspective was the portion of the class that I was most familiar with and where I had the most opportunity to contribute. I researched the French revolution as part of my eighteenth century group.  In my posts I tried to base my thoughts off of historical perspectives.  Finally, as part of my e-book group (inquiry)I was put in charge of writing the historical perspective section of the chapter.  During class discussions I would try to make historical applications.  I feel that modern thought brings new light to history and that the study of history can and should help us navigate our way through the digital age.

Digital concepts:
The digital part of digital civilization.  This is the section that I was most concerned with in this class.  I am not tech savvy.  Admittedly it was a pretty steep learning curve when I had to start creating blogs and signing up for google+.  I was experiencing signs of technostress.  I don't think I have overcome my wariness of new technologies, but I am learning.  I was able to be part of the Information C group where I was able to learn about disruptive innovation.  I was intrigued by disruptive innovation and decided to dig deeper outside of the presentation and found Clayton Christensen and was able to attend a lecture that he gave on campus (which was excellent by the way).  For the e-book, we had the opportunity to discuss the digital concepts specifically information and participation.  I was able to participate in presentations, written portions of builds, and class discussions.  Digital concepts were the section that I was most concerned about coming into the class, but I believe that it is the section where I learned the most.  As I began using different tools I learned in class and researching disruptive innovations, I was actually excited about what I was learning which led to some interesting projects (to be discussed later in the blogpost).

Digital Literacy:
As discussed above, I am not the most digitally civilized individual in class.  However, this class has opened my mind to some tools that have already helped me in other fields. I now listen to tedtalks at work and have listened to over 50.  I have used google scholar and HBLL online tools to get sources for papers in my other classes. I have been able to reach out to other archaeologists through google + who, though not studying in my particular field, are trying to innovate the way we do things.  I used a prezi to give my presentation on Fremont ceramics at Wolf Village.  My professor was really wary about using something that wasn't powerpoint, but he seemed to be pleased with the results.  As part of the e-book group we have been working on a lesson plan that will reach outside the scope of the class and change the way that students learn at BYU.  Lynsie is working on the lesson plan and will send us a copy to review when she's done.  I still have a long way to go to become digitally literate, but I have made some good steps forward.

Self-directed learning:
I love to learn. I love finding new ideas and expanding my horizons. I would often begin to study for class and would be distracted by researching different avenues that had arisen from my research.  I learned a lot that I was able to use in class both in discussion and in my groups. I learned about prezis and decided to learn enough to use it effectively and have been able to teach some of my teachers and fellow classmates.  I was able to use what I learned in class to collaborate and teach in my other classes.  When preparing for classes I would draw on what I already knew, but I would also study the topics for the day through internet searches and trips to the library.  One interest I have gained from this class is disruptive innovation and have begun to look into books by Clayton Christensen.  I love to learn and now have an increased capacity to do so.

This is an area that I have completely changed my opinion about.  Now it seems so awkward trying to schedule meetings for presentations when we could just use prezi, google docs, or google hangout (I have been able to use all three for class).  One of the most interesting developments (for me at least) in my collaborative experience is a new project I am a part of.  Paul Stavast, the director at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, told me about his desire to improve the methods of archaeologists in excavating, analyzing, and curating artifacts. He was trying to teach himself programming languages to create and app, but was not progressing as fast as he wanted to.  We discussed our plans and ideas and then I introduced him to my cousin who is an electrical engineer major who has had some experience creating apps.  He hopped on board and then introduced us to one of his acquaintances who had an algorithm for shape identification which we are currently calibrating to recognize various arrowhead types.  This project should have a big impact on the effectiveness of archaeological inquiry.  

I believe that the true impact of the class was what I have been able to accomplish outside of class.  I have improved my learning and teaching and have been able to share that with others outside the class.  I have admittedly fallen short of a full-fledged digital citizen, but I believe that I am learning and moving forward.  I like innovation (one of the main things I liked about the class)  and this class has helped me get excited about it.  I am studying archaeology and museums, both are fields where innovation is needed but slow and I hope that I can make a difference in both fields.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sorry. I know this is a little late.  Had some unexpected drama.

I invited several people to the presentation:
Sheila Bibb-Anthropology professor who runs a joint project with the HBLL to conduct anthropological studies about libraries at the library.  She did not attend but I will refer her to the presentation online
Robert Baker-A local businessman with whom I had previously discussed the class.  He had to work late and did not attend. Will refer to the online presentation.
Omar Lopez-My buddy from the ward.  Had a choir performance, but still made it to the end.
Andrew Germaine-A construction management major with whom I had previously talked about the class with.  Watched the presentation online.
Paul Stavast-Museum director who I have begun working with on a collaborative project-could not come-will refer to online presentation.
Mike Searcy-Archaeology professor who is interested in applying technological advances to archaeology-could not come-will refer to online presentation.
Jarrett Iverson-A student who is deciding what he wants to do-watched the presentation online.
Dannie-A student who is deciding what she wants to do-watched the presentation online with Jarrett.
Timothy Brantley-High School principal-couldn't come-will refer to the online presentation.
Miriam Shumaway-Jounalist major-couldn't come-will refer to the online presentation.

At the start of the presentation I served as one of the ushers, encouraging people to sit closer to the front of the room.  After the first Q&A session, I went and helped bring the refreshments over from Dr. Zappala's office.  Not wanting to leave the food unattended, I grabbed my laptop and watched the presentations out front where I also participated in Ustream chat.  I helped dish out brownies and pour lemonade for the rest of the night until I helped with the clean-up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inquiry: Annotating the bibliography

My process:  My research process has been diverse.  I have done a lot of experimenting with things discussed in class (google+, TEDtalks, etc).  I have also done a little traditional bookwork.  The research has often varied in its depth, but I believe that I have found some good resources

Jonathon Harris. (Plato, Byzantium, and the Italian Renaissance) Discusses the interactions between Byzantium and the Italians.  Sharing of information, collaboration, and creativity. [This is the article that provided ideas for the historical analogy section.

Clayton Christensen. (Disrupting Class)   Innovations are often used to reinforce preexisting institutions, but disruptive innovation enters the arena and changes the way that things are done.  This book outlines evidence for and actions to change the way that education is conducted. [I found this book when I  was researching key thinkers in education innovation]

Jack M. Maness. (Library 2.0: Web 2.0 and Its Implications for Libraries)  The emergence of the Library 2.0 concept and several concepts associated with it.  This article is a concise and well-written article on Library 2.0 [Found through Google]

Richard Baraniuk. (Richard Baraniuk on open-source learning)  Baraniuk is a professor at Rice University and has done a lot of research on open-source learning. He want to create a knowledge ecosystem in which anyone in the world can create, innovate, and share.   [I found this talk when browsing through TEDtalks and was impressed by the research]

Sheila C. Bibb.  (Students studying students)  Bibb is a adjunct professor at Brigham Young University.  She works with her students conducting research at the Harold B. Lee library studying how students interact with the library and how things can be improved.  [Professor Bibb was mentioned by Professor Burton and I was able to go talk with her about her research]

Clayton Christensen  (Disrupting Class -mentioned above)  Christensen is famous for his studies in disruptive innovation in regards to business, but has also focused his efforts on advancing innovation in education [Christensen is an important thinker and his ideas contribute to changes that need to happen in the educational system]

Monday, March 5, 2012

My learning disruption and Clayton Christensen

Learning is fun and I like doing it.  Unfortunately I have had some wacky craziness in my life and have not been posting about my learning process.  This week I have been, and will be, playing catch up.  Today I read Dr. Burton's post about library 2.0 that was posted on our group's delicious page.  What struck me about the post was his methods (which of course was his intention) and I decided to try it out.

I decided to try this method with a topic that I have found to be personally interesting: disruptive innovation.  I decided to google the term and look for the people who were key in the discussion.  I clicked on a link that advertised a basic definition and was taken to the official website of Clayton Christensen.  I watched the little video found there and discovered that the man in the clip was familiar.  I had read one of his talks in the ensign.  He is a member and happens to be the first person to coin the term disruptive innovation. He has written several books on the subject and has focused on business, healthcare, and education (education being something that will help with my group's library 2.0 project). 

As I am posting this, I have just begun to search into all the things I can find from this, but so far I have found two things that are helpful to what I'm doing right now.  First of all, the site contains many links to his religious articles 1.  I think that it is awesome that a man that is successful as a businessman and theorist can publish stuff about his beliefs.  I even found the article that I had first read as a missionary.

Second I found a lot of good links to his articles and people that he has collaborated with 2.  This is going to be a big help as I develop questions that I want to ask about the changing world of education.  As of yet I have not contacted any of them, but I am planning on it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Education was one of the big topics of discussion on Tuesday.  While there are obviously problems, I do not think that the system is ineffective, just some tweaking.  From some of my other GE courses I have noticed that some students have some false notions about education: learning is always fun or classwork should be easy.  One of the comments from class was about the discrepancies between education and the workforce. I liked the comment in made in Kyle Durfee's blog about going to vocation school if you want job training.  Universities are not a long workshop to prepare us for a single job.  Rather, universities provide a basis of knowledge that can be applied to many situations.

One of the problems with the education debate, like many of the big issues of the day, is that most of the solutions that people suggest are overly simplistic:  "If the government would just hire more teachers the system would fix itself", "All we have to do is get rid of standardized testing", etc, etc, etc.  There is not a set system that will help everyone achieve every one of their goals.  You may feel that the university does not cater to your individual needs, but you are not the only one here to get an education.  What is useful to one person may be entirely useless to another.  Therefore, educational institutions are necessarily required to adjust curriculum to reach a broad spectrum of people's needs.  From this pool of presented knowledge, students can take what benefits them and learn the skills that will help them in their lives.

In conclusion, some changes do need to be made and will always have to be made.  The world is constantly changing and we have to constantly change the way that we learn about it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kicking and Screaming

My digital concept is Information.  While looking over the syllabus, I had a connection with the concept of disruptive innovation.  As humans we enjoy being comfortable.  This is in part what drives us to reach out to new ideas and ways of living.  The need for comfort drives some people to innovate, but it drives others to resist any change.  I personally am not one who changes quickly and this class has helped me realize this.  I like the concept of new technology, but am slow in making full use of it.  
I posted a comic on google+ last week about the difference in how programmers and programmers view each other.  Adam Jones mentioned in his comments (thanks for that by the way)  that this class is a force for learning new things.  I believe that this is true.  In a normal situation I would keep to my trend of checking facebook once a week and using the computer solely for writing papers and watching dumb clips on youtube.

The thing is history has taught us that those who will not adapt to modern technology will be left in its wake.  Societies with bronze tools upstaged people with stone tools and in turn the bronze age succumbed to the iron age.  I have made stone tools and they look cool, but it is easier and more effective to make use of modern technology.

So are all of us digital cavemen doomed to be left bloody and bruised as the computer age passes us by?  Or do we have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital world?  I don't think so. Mankind is always moving forward and new technology has not stopped them for millions of years.  I like to think that the cavemen at the top of this post will eventually see the benefits of the wheel and live better lives for it.  I am slow, but I will get there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Controlling the past

Germans using the Enigma Machine
I talked a little in my last blog post something about how sharing information helps improve our overall knowledge.  Information is a wonderful thing, but it can also be dangerous.  Information is the basis of power and that power can be used to great benefit or harm. Since the earliest history, mankind has controlled who had access to knowledge:  the early Mesopotamians would put clay tokens within a clay ball marked by a seal.  Everything from accounting to military secrets has been subject to an information constraint.  We have now entered a digital age where massive amounts of information can be stored and transmitted, and that has brought a period of unprecedented growth.  As I studied the digital concept of control in the 20th century, I looked at how different people controlled information and why they did it.

The 20th century is marked by some of the bloodiest conflict in history.  Information during these conflicts was critical and could mean the difference between life and death.  Information about troop movements, supply lines, and reinforcements was closely guarded and people on each side had specialists dedicated to protecting information and accessing the information possessed by the opposing side.  During World War I, British Intelligence decoded a message from a German Foreign Minister about the Germans offering an alliance to the Mexican government  against the United States, a message that helped bring the United States into the war.

In World War II, the Germans were winning the war for the Atlantic.  The Germans possessed an unbreakable code that allowed them to pass information without fear of detection.  The Allies tried in vain to decipher the code, but were unable to do so and it was costing them the war.  The allies had over 9,000 people assigned to the task of breaking the code produced by the German's enigma machine.  Using captured enigma machines and mathematical equations, the allies were finally able to break the German code and turn the tide of the war.

In class, we have talked a lot about open science and the benefits of showing results of research and the process that it takes to get there.  These sentiments are felt both because of previous hoaxes and scandals, and the great gains that can be had from sharing information.  Both are valid considerations, but when discussing control it is also important to remember that some information is dangerous.  Just because information is there does not necessarily mean that it should be common knowledge.  I do agree that we are in a digital age and we all need to be better at sharing information, but I also believe that the control of information can also be a good thing.  As an archaeologist, we often withhold information in order to protect sites and artifacts that could be (and sad history has shown us that it does happen) harmed or destroyed.

There is no simple answer about what should be controlled and how heavy that control should be, but control is a necessary and responsible part of the modern age.